Jim writes…“I am presently in the process of rebuilding my house. I have been seriously considering a bundled wire of 2 coax, 1 cat5, 1 cat6 and 2 fiber optic. Might as well bring it in to the 21st century while I’m at it. Yet, I am looking for some kind of module, or brain command center that will handle the distribution to all rooms. I was wondering if you know were going to write about a build your own type of distribution system rather than the old splitters. I wanted to bring in one feed and run direct home runs to all rooms. No jumping from room to room. No multiple splitters down the line, etc… Of course, I want to have wireless access, but we all know that there are still signal drops in that configuration”. What are some suggestions for Jim? Post them in the comments!

0 thoughts on “Maker challenge: Wiring a House

  1. Hey Jim,

    I just did what you’re talking about with a house my wife and I built. Home runs to all rooms with all-in-one wires, the whole deal.

    First off, check out this site if you haven’t already: http://www.smarthome.com/

    I used the SpeedWrap cable [http://www.smarthome.com/8682.html].

    I then went with an HAI brain for the system [http://www.smarthome.com/hai.html]. This is a very expandable solution that hooks into your computer and allows for all kinds of smart home functions like web cams, turning things on/off remotely, etc.

    I ran speakers around the house too. Make sure when running the wire, you think about volume controls being run in-line with the speaker. You’ll probably want them near the light switch for the room.

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you need more info.

    Later, Dan

  2. Hi there Jim,

    I wired my new house (over 6000sq ft) last year and like Dan, I ran 2 Cat5e, 2 RG-6 QS, and 2 Fiber to each room (some I ran 2-5 runs of each). I also, run 4 conductor cable for (glass break sensors, PIR motion, magnet sensors, etc) and shielded 4 conductor for microphones. Remember, to wire as much as you can. I even ran cat 5e behind the refrigerator, dishwasher, laundry, water tank, furnace, etc. You never know when you’ll need it. I love wirelesss, but nothing beats wire. Also, remember to wire for remote temp sensors, so you can monitor temp in a wine cellar, etc. I’m in the process of terminating all the runs, which I ran to a Leviton 42″ media enclosure (I’ll be posting about that on my blog soon). All the fiber won’t be used, and honestly, I don’t think it will ever get lit. The termination costs are just way to high and they are always making it possible to get fast speeds over copper. I have 8 areas that are pure gigabit over copper… but it’s safe, just in case. You can always use it to send DVI over longer runs if needed.

    I also am using a HAI OmniPro II. It’s the best bang for the buck. Read my post here for more information about my system:

    My Attempt At Home Automation Using .NET and Flash
    My Favorite Home Automation Controller
    Control Your Home Via Windows Media Center
    OmniPro II Now Supports Russound CAV 6.6

  3. Most of the comments and suggestions provided so far will be quite helpful. The two leading structered wiring vendors are Leviton and OnQ. You can go to their websites and find local wiring vendors in your areas. You don’t necessarily have to use the wiring vendor, but I guide you to them so that you can pick up a catalog to see the available components (1 inch thick catalogs). Leviton is available at Home Depot, but they don’t have much in stock compared to what’s available.

    I’ve been involved in several wiring projects (both my home and commercial). For a home, I wouldn’t bother with fiber, unless you need long backbone runs, or you have the money and you really, really want to have fiber. All the networking vendors are driving to make their products work over copper, so fiber is for the most part an added expense that will be obselete. Most commercial installations only use it for very high-speed backbones and long runs (over 100 meters). Still need RG-6 for digital cable or satellite (it is very finicky as far as distance and connections).

    It would be wise to shy away from wireless. It really complicates your security configuration; unless of course you don’t mind having your home network open to people who can hop on and steal identity information. Nobody talks about the fact that a wireless network can simply be jammed by interference and then your screwed. I use wireless, but only in limited circumstances and secured (encrypted).

    Also, if you’re going to the trouble of wiring the house, make sure you rewire the voice lines as well. Get rid of the old Cat3 phone wire that’s probably there and replace with Cat5E. That way you’ll be ready for digital phone service (and extend services; basically your phone becoming an Internet client, which is what Vonage has already started).

    One last thing, I would check into building codes. One you’ll need to make sure what kind of wire you can install (plenum or PVC); it depends on the fire codes. Most commercial buildings require plenum and some homes do as well. You also may need to have a licensed contractor install the wiring (or sign off) on the installation to make sure that the home is re-sellable, and/or insurable. I know that the state of WA is beginning to require that structured wiring be installed by licensed contractors.

    Okay, now one last thing. Wherever you home run the wires to, make sure it is a large enough space to house the network switches, components, computers, etc. and that it will be well-ventilated (or better yet air conditioned). A cramped space and computers is not wise, nor is a space with carpeting or dust (but I’m sure you knew that already).

    Anyway lots of other possible stuff (especially around the home automation control), but you must get the foundation right first. If you do your homework, things should work out, and it is fun to do it yourself (especially when everything works).

    bpk

  4. Forget trying to guess what the future holds for connectivity.
    I put conduit in my walls, and stubbed them out into the attic.
    This allows me to bring in the appropriate technlogy for the year without a great deal of effort. In particular I used a flexable plastic conduit which for my local is legal if your structure is two stories or less. The stuff was cheap and easy to work with. I currently have CAT5 in them and will next year pull CAT 6 (or CAT 7?).

  5. oops. Can not use an apostrophe. That was the link to how one guy did his home wiring with cat-5, fiber optic, and coax.

  6. I’ve been working on my own ‘structured wiring’ installation for six months now, using mostly Leviton products. I’ve run the cable and installed the central panel in the basement, but still need to finish terminating everything. I’ve been writing up the project step by step on our houseblog. Click here for all my posts detailing the project (it’s in reverse date order, so start from the bottom).

    I’ll also second the comment praising swhowto.com, which I’ve found very useful. Depending on how you learn, you might also check out this instructional DVD that I found helpful.

  7. Hi guys,
    When I built my house ~3 years ago, I ran structured cabling (2 Cat 5e’s, 2 RG6, 2 Fibers) to every single room, with mulitple runs in most rooms. I even ran structured to the garage, and even outside to one of my patios! It’s great to be able to watch TV outside, or have a phone plugged in – if I get around to terminating everything. I built a nice rack (

  8. I’m an architect, AND I recently renovated my own house from bare studs on up. I’m with the guy who said to run conduit. It’s called ENT (Electrical Nonmetallic Tubing), some contractors call it Smurf Tube, cause it’s usually blue. You run it from junction juntion box to box inside the walls and cover the standard boxes with a standard wall plate. You can then run any type of wire in them in the future and you can run the wire anywhere in the system by skipping from box to box. Even if you run structured cable, run it in smurf.

  9. I’d avoid the Cat6 and stick with Cat5E. It’s easier to work with, much cheaper, and supports gigE+ speeds (and is relatively easy to do). If you’re paranoid about line loss you can rent or borrow a quality line tester (that shows attenuation and ‘loss’ of each wire, end to end)… and you’ll probably still come out cheaper than a Cat6 based infrastructure. You’ll end up saving time too, as Cat6’s center plastic seperator and seperated twisted pairs are, imo, harder to work with and take more time per jack/port. In any event, you’ll find that trying to install both cat5 and 6 in the same space doesn’t gain you much, and if anything will become an extra hinderance down the road.

    I’ve found good deals on pieces of infrastructure online – jacks, plates, filler panels, patch panels and the rest of the infrastructure is pretty cheap to obtain that way (ebay is good too). I bought my spools of cat5e at the local mega-super-hardware-circus for $50 a 1000′. Not bad for the convenience, and if I run out during an install, I can get the same quality of cable with an hours long trip.

    My only other advice is plan on things not working out as you expected them to -until- you’ve done them. Try stapling up your cable on some scrap wood, punching down a spare jack a few times, etc. before you put any of your “real” jacks, panels or equipment into use. Leave a lot of slack in your runs and run at least -two- pull cords per tube, one per side (and run more if its a main tube).

    Good luck, hope it goes well.

    — krt

  10. Dear Jim,
    Having a home with structured wiring is the best thing that you can do. All of today’s and tomorrow’s technology will need a good/great infrastructure to operate on. Most people have not seen the benefit of structured wiring until they have the cable, satellite or phone installer over to their home. With structured wiring you have a centralized point (media enclosure) that will have the connection for your high speed internet access/DSL , cable television/ satellite television system, and updated phone service to run on and then go to each room in your home.
    So now everyone can have access to the internet without having to wait by using a router, cable/dsl modem and maybe a network switch. You can upgrade your phones because you have access to high speed data access with the CAT6 so when digital phone service with video phone comes out you are ready. If you decide to have a satellite system for television you can have it centralized from the basement instead of wires be ran all around your home. if you decide to use cable television everyone in the home can enjoy digital service with HDTV grade coax cable that is quad shielded for better television reception.
    With the one CAT5 cable you can have speaker system in each room to have whole-home audio system or put an intercom/camera system in each room. As you can see; you have opened yourself to so many great choices it is unbelievable. With the fiber optic cable; you will have to use the right transcievers, but you can have almost anything you want from there. You can have your own alarm system, any type of wireless technology can be added on top of the wired system and now your home can be fully automated.
    Jim, for all of this to happen you need a media cabinet preferably located in the basement of the home near a power source. So any and all inner workings of the media enclosure can work properly. You can email me at info@readyforknowledge.com and I will give you a complete list of what you need to finish your project. Plus, after all of the work is done. This will make the resale value of your home go up greatly.

    I am the CTO for a company called Ready For Knowledge, Inc. or http://www.readyforknowledge.com

  11. Dear Jim,
    Having a home with structured wiring is the best thing that you can do. All of today’s and tomorrow’s technology will need a good/great infrastructure to operate on. Most people have not seen the benefit of structured wiring until they have the cable, satellite or phone installer over to their home. With structured wiring you have a centralized point (media enclosure) that will have the connection for your high speed internet access/DSL , cable television/ satellite television system, and updated phone service to run on and then go to each room in your home.
    So now everyone can have access to the internet without having to wait by using a router, cable/dsl modem and maybe a network switch. You can upgrade your phones because you have access to high speed data access with the CAT6 so when digital phone service with video phone comes out you are ready. If you decide to have a satellite system for television you can have it centralized from the basement instead of wires be ran all around your home. if you decide to use cable television everyone in the home can enjoy digital service with HDTV grade coax cable that is quad shielded for better television reception.
    With the one CAT5 cable you can have speaker system in each room to have whole-home audio system or put an intercom/camera system in each room. As you can see; you have opened yourself to so many great choices it is unbelievable. With the fiber optic cable; you will have to use the right transcievers, but you can have almost anything you want from there. You can have your own alarm system, any type of wireless technology can be added on top of the wired system and now your home can be fully automated.
    Jim, for all of this to happen you need a media cabinet preferably located in the basement of the home near a power source. So any and all inner workings of the media enclosure can work properly. You can email me at info@readyforknowledge.com and I will give you a complete list of what you need to finish your project. Plus, after all of the work is done. This will make the resale value of your home go up greatly.

    I am the CTO for a company called Ready For Knowledge, Inc. or http://www.readyforknowledge.com

Tagged

current: @adafruit - previous: MAKE, popular science, hackaday, engadget, fallon, braincraft ... howtoons, 2600...

View more articles by Phillip Torrone